Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Vintage Sewing: Clemence Skirt from Love at First Stitch

I borrowed the Love at First Stitch book by Tilly Walnes from the library, and have been working my way through the retro projects included.  My first project from the book was the Margot pyjama bottoms.  This time I decided to tackle the 'Clemence' skirt.  It's a simple style, with a full, gathered skirt, and fitted waistband.  I envisaged mine as a sort of mid-century house-skirt, with large patch pockets to pop things in.

There isn't a pattern included in the book, rather there are instructions for you to draft your own pattern.  I've already self-drafted a wrap top and a few other items, so I wasn't too phased by this.  I was however, dreading the inevitable zip insertion.  And the gathering.  And the waistband.  Well, you've got to throw yourself in the deep-end sometimes to learn faster!

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

The nice bits
Following the step-by-step instructions, with photographs, I found it easy to draft the pattern pieces.  Cutting them out was even easier, thanks to my Christmas gift of a rotary cutter and cutting mat (thanks Mum!).  It really is fantastic, and made the process much quicker.  So far so good. 

The tricky bits
The first hurdle was the gathering.  As expected, it was tricky, and I didn't do a great job of making it even.  But, I don't notice it too much in the finished skirt.

The next hurdle was a bit more problematic.  When I tried the skirt on it was far too tight to be a comfy, casual skirt.  I didn't have enough fabric left to make an entirely new, larger waistband, so had to slice the existing one and join new bits to it.  That was a bit of a faff, getting the new waistband joins to match up with the side seams.  You wouldn't really notice that it's not all one piece now it's sewn up, phew!

After all that of course it was far too big around the waist (!).  I couldn't understand why.  I rechecked the measurements of the pattern pieces and my body, and recalculated it all.  I was baffled, but just went back to unpicking, trimming and re-stitching...

I have since discovered that I have a weird ruler.  Part of it is correct, showing inches divided into 1/16ths.  But, part of it shows inches divided into 1/10ths.  I am baffled as to what use that could possibly be to anybody.  I must have used the tenths bit when measuring out my waistband, which means all of my measurements would have been out. Gah!

The fun didn't stop there, oh no.  I struggle with inserting zips at the best of times.  What I hadn't reckoned on was that because of the gathering, coupled with my fabric being at the heavier end of the spectrum, an invisible zip wouldn't zip up on me, despite zipping up laid flat!  I tried multiple times.  I unpicked and wailed a few times.  I didn't have a regular zip and I am not keen to spend another extortionate amount on a new one at Hobbycraft (my only option locally) so I fudged the invisible zip to fit, rather visibly.  Sigh.

The final step was to add the pockets, which I found out you're still meant to do before you sew up the skirt.  It was perhaps then a little more difficult attaching pockets to a rather poufy skirt front, but I got them in the right place after a bit of trial and error.  I think they make the skirt, and it will be so practical now.  I probably should have given it a final press before I took these photos, but it was getting late.

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch
Above: The badly inserted, very visible invisible zip!
Below: Check out my neat French seams and hem though.

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

Clemence skirt Love at First Stitch

Overall cost
I bought some rather stiff striped cotton fabric (no idea what the proper name for that is) from a remnants basket in a charity shop, and thought that would do nicely, as the stiffness would help hold the poufy shape.  I think it was a good choice, despite the zip issues, which could easily be solved by adding in a normal zip.  The fabric was no more than £2, which was less than the Hobbycraft zip at £2.35!  The thread was from a stash given to me by a friend, so the total cost of the skirt was under a fiver (well, under a tenner if you factor in my library fine for not returning the book on time...).  It was frustrating to make, but I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this skirt, and dare I say it, try out this pattern again in the future if I come across some suitable fabric.

I have since ordered a new ruler...

19 comments:

  1. So cute!

    Gathering is easier if you use something heavier to do the actual gathering. You zig zag over heavy duty thread, dental floss, or something along those lines, and then pull the heavier thread.

    I think tenths might be for drafting?

    Dee

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the tip about the heavier thread, I'll try that next time!

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  2. You're welcome. Crochet thread should work well, too.

    Dee

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  3. I think it looks fab - the fact that you're doing your own drafting is really impressive.

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    1. Thanks Mim. Self-drafting is really not too bad, you just have to take care with the maths and double-check your calculations (and check you have a proper ruler...)

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  4. Ooh! I love this skirt! The stripes are so adorable!!! And you matched the pocket stripes to the skirt! High 5 for that!!! I can see huge improvements in your sewing with every garment that you make! So enjoying your sewing adventures, keep em coming!!!

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    Replies
    1. Why thank you for such enthusiastic cheer-leading!! I matched the pocket stripes instinctively, and was quite chuffed afterwards when I realised that was the proper thing to do.

      And don't worry, more sewing adventures are on the way...

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  5. In spite of all the hurdles, and the non-ironing, the skirt looks really cute and well-made. Well, they do say practise makes perfect! xxx

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  6. Your skirt looks amazing, I love the front pockets and fabric choice. You have done such a great job! :) Now the heatwave is over (for now) I can continue working on my dress this evening!! x

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  7. Oh I love it, it's so cute! You're right, the patch pockets definitely make the skirt and I love the puffiness of it.

    I buy the majority of my zips on eBay for about £1.70 each. bargains_destination is one of the main sellers I buy from and their postage is fast and free so it gets to you within a few days. xx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the zip tip!! I will definitely check the seller out. More zippy projects lined up.

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  8. The skirt looks lovely and the fit is beautiful

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.uk

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  9. You're so good Porcelina ! I think the skirt looks impeccable :)

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  10. You'd never know this skirt had problems until you said. It's really very impressive how fast you're learning! xx

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  11. I just got tired of fussing with Invisible zippers and now hand set them. I think they are much more elegant looking. Making some of my own clothes is one of my things so keep on sewing! Its a great thing.

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  12. that skirt looks totally cool!! love the fabric!
    visible zips are alway fussy if they have to close over horizontal seams. i avoid this bei only putting them in the skirt part and close the waistband with hooks&eyes or that broad hook closure for mens trousers or just a button.....(waistband has to be longer for that)
    and with this one has 1-2 cm reserve for changing waist measurements - just by placing the hook/button ;-)
    xxx

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  13. I love this skirt- the fabric was a perfect choice, and it turned out so nicely, despite the flaws! I always have flaws on my garments too :(
    Some tips on gathering and inserting zippers, in case it wasn't mentioned in the book or elsewhere: if you sew two rows to gather instead of just one row of stitching, it is much easier to gather evenly. Because it will gather "flatter" your gathers won't go any which way and pucker as you try to attach it to the waistband.
    Also, if you stop your gathering about an inch from the edge of the material, there won't be as much of a problem with the fabric bunching when you go to insert your zipper and it should zip up fine once it is sewn in. About half of that inch will be the seam allowance, and then the rest of the ungathered section- only about 3/8" or so- will be hidden amongst the other gathers. I hope that makes sense! I've learned these tricks after MANY failed attempts- so I hope they can help you too :)
    The Artyologist

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  14. Fantastic job! It looks amazing and that is so wonderful that you have learned drafting your own patterns. So impressive! :D

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  15. It looks fabulous and is the perfect fabric for this style. I love the big pockets too. My Clemence skirt is probably the most loved piece I've sewn for myself, and I've never managed to sew an invisible zipper that is actually invisible. It doesn't really matter to me in the end! And I made my waistband way too big the first time (both on this one and the Delphine skirt) despite having a perfectly reliable ruler and being a maths teacher. *shrug*

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